[Review] Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Page: 336 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Alzheimer's Disease - Patient
First Published: 2007



Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life – and her relationship with her family and the world – forever.
At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of the life with early onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Ordinary People.

- Synopsis from book cover

There was a big hype surrounding this book some time ago but I guess I missed the boat. Nevertheless I am glad that I had the opportunity to finally read this book. Looking back, I cannot remember when was the last time I cried over a book. While it’s true that there were some books that I shed some tears for but Still Alice made me REALLY cried that I can’t read in public. Once I read this book in the morning before going to work and I had to fight so hard from crying. Not that I succeeded anyway. Suffice to say that I went to work that day with a pair of red eyes.

What makes the story so heart-rending is because Alice was only fifty years old and was on her pinnacle of her career as a Harvard professor when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I particularly love reading about her relationship with her similarly successful husband … she reminisced about how they used to walk hand-in-hand to Harvard where they both worked, stopping by at the local diner for breakfast – but over the years as their career demands increases and traveling becoming more frequent, Alice and her husband sort of grew apart. In this story we see how their relationship gradually improves.

I loved this book not because it is an amazing piece of writing – which it is by the way – but it relates to me in a more personal level. My own maternal grandfather is now suffering from Alzheimer’s just like his mother before him. I don’t get to see him all the time but when I do it always sadden me to see how fast his memory deteriorates, that he cannot remember his own children now (let alone his grandchildren). The fact that I might have a 25% chance of inheriting the disease is an eye-opener. (Fact: if one of your parents have it, you have a 50-50 chance of having the disease as well).

Still Alice is told from third-person but through Alice’s point of view. It read like a memoir and although its ending is undeniably predictable and inevitable, this book is all about the journey of a woman’s decent into dementia that is so poignant and thought-provoking. It makes you stop and think that despite our crazy schedules that there are other important things in life that we may have taken for granted all these while. 

Comments

Nina B. said…
I knew you would love it! I enjoyed this book so much and I am now forcing my mother to read it too.

That's so sad that your grandfather is suffering from the same disease and that you might have it too. I guess making the most of your life with your grandfather right now is all you could do. This might sound cliche but it does not matter if your loved one's memory fades - you become the guardian of their memories.

OK that was too weepy, but I hope you get what I'm saying.

Back to the book: I'm so happy you loved it!

Brush Up On Your Reading
Thanks for your thoughtful words, Nina!
I'm going to let my mother read this book too!
Amy said…
I remember this book received great reviews in the book blogging community and a lot of bloggers read it. I recently purchased it at the flea market and I'm looking forward to reading it although I realize it's quite sad, as you said in your review. I enjoyed your review and I imagine that this was a difficult book for you to read because of your experience with Alzheimers. The fact that you liked it so much anyway speaks to how well-written and interesting it is.
Thank you!